Is Amazon nut certification a solution for increased smallholder empowerment in Peruvian Amazonia?

Julia Quaedvlieg, MR Garcia Roca, MAF Ros-Tonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The certification of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) was introduced in the early 2000s as a means of promoting sustainable community forestry and smallholders' access to profitable niche markets. Several studies have been carried out to analyze the success of smallholder certification, with a focus on its feasibility, compliance with sustainability standards and livelihoods effects. Much less attention has been given to certification as a process that promotes the empowerment and inclusion of small producers in natural resource management. Based on a study of three Amazon nut (Bertholletia excelsa) certifications (Forest Stewardship Council, organic and Fairtrade) carried out in Madre de Dios, Peru, in 2008 and 2010 this paper aims to fill part of the gap by assessing five empowerment outcomes of Amazon nut certification schemes nearly a decade after their introduction. The findings show that certification enhances producers' political empowerment (having a voice based on representation and social organization and increased self-confidence in one's ability to effect change) by increasing their organizational capacity and managerial know-how. However, limited demand, monetary benefits and economic viability are major constraints on their economic empowerment (increased assets and capabilities that enable them to benefit from new opportunities and freedom to make economic decisions). The authors argue that only stronger social organization will enable certification to break the hierarchical economic structures that disadvantage producers and prevent their replacement with new dependencies on donor and NGO support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-55
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


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